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SFU Students to Serve in Costa Rica and Jamaica over Spring Break

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Saint Francis students, faculty and alumni will travel to Costa Rica and Jamaica on service mission trips with the HUGS (Helping the Underprivileged by Giving our Service) United program.

Students from the physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant and business programs will serve others in these countries while gaining hands-on experience in their fields of study.

The trips sill take place from Feb. 24 to March 4. Twenty-one people will be traveling to Costa Rica and 29 will be heading to Maggotty, Jamaica.

During the week of service, students and staff will work in medical clinics, nursing homes and schools to offer assistance to those in need.

Students involved with SFU’s micro-lending program will interview residents in Jamaica who want to start a business but do not have the money to do so.

SFU’s micro-lending program has dispersed $18,600 to aspiring entrepreneurs since 2013.

This marks the first year that the HUGS United program is making a mission trip to Costa Rica.

Lisa Georgiana, director of SFU’s Center for Service & Learning and a team leader for the Jamaica trip, said that all of the HUGS United programs are unique.

“A lot of students grow spiritually and there’s some evangelization that goes on,” she said. “They take what they learned in class and apply it to the outside world.”

Georgiana said that students gain clinical experience, give back to the underprivileged, learn about a new culture, and make memories and relationships that will last a lifetime on the HUGS United trips.

“I’m trying to just keep an open mind and not have expectations,” said sophomore occupational therapy major Valerie Boles, who is going to Costa Rica over her spring break. “I just want to be open to whatever is out there.”

HUGS United began in 2006 with a service mission trip to Honduras under the direction of SFU faculty member Bill Hanlon. Since then, HUGS has also made mission trips to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Students work with people of all ages on these trips, and they build relationships with people of different cultures over the course of the week.

“Something that I’m really passionate about it is helping kids,” said Boles. “This seemed like a really cool opportunity to help kids outside of an environment that I’m already comfortable in.”

Georgiana said she feels safe when she goes on the mission trips to Jamaica, and that the community is very friendly.

“It’s really in giving that we receive,” she said. “Students go there with the intention to help other people, but they were actually the ones changed.”

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